From: Patti Landes Adams. I served in the Italy Catania Mission in 1980-81. As a sister, I served for eighteen months, which wasn't near long enough to spend in a country with such generous people, and in such beautiful surroundings. I would like to share with you, the story of four people who impacted my life as a young missionary.
My MTC district arrived in Catania, on the island of Sicily in March of 1980. We were greeted at the airport by Lino P. Gambarotto, his wife, Isabel, and their missionary assistants. President Gambarotto's background is unique. He is a native Italian but his parents moved to Argentina when he was three years old. He and his wife were converted to the gospel by two missionaries who knocked on their door in Argentina and their conversion is quite a story in itself. From the moment they embraced the gospel, they have made it their mission to always be on the Lord's errand. Years after they joined the church, they were visiting Salt Lake City, at the home of one of the missionaries who had baptized them, when they received a call from The First Presidency's office, asking calling them to preside over the Italy Catania Mission. With great fear and humility they accepted. Because Spanish was their native tongue, they spent time in the MTC with several of their missionaries, learning to speak Italian.
My first interview with President Gambarotto was interesting because he spoke little English and I had not yet received the gift of tongues which would enable me to speak or understand Italian. His purpose was clear to me, however. He spoke with love and conviction for the gospel, the people of Italy, and the mission rules. He took these three things very seriously. The missionaries and members were blessed by his leadership and Sister Gambarotto's deep caring. Through prayer, fasting and hard work, they were able to move the spirit of missionary work in Southern Italy forward at a tremendous pace. The love that had developed in the members and missionaries, toward President and Sister Gambarotto was evidenced by the many tributes and displays of tender emotion as they toured the mission before concluding their service there.
They did not stop serving when their mission ended. Shortly after they returned to Argentina, they were called to preside over the Santiago, Chile MTC. They then served a genealogy mission and served in the temple presidency of the Buenos Aires Temple, under Elder Angel Abrea. Lino Gambarotto is currently serving as Branch President in a small town near Buenos Aires, and is working to help educate returned missionaries in Argentina. In their dedication to the Lord, they are slowed only by their declining years.
We were privileged to have them join us for a twenty year reunion here in Salt Lake City during April 1999 General Conference. (See www.jordanriverlc.com/gambarotto for a report and photos of the reunion).